Former UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione’s Bellator MMA debut (full fight video here) was nearly a disaster. At Bellator: Dynamite 2 on June 24th, Carl Seumanutafa knocked him down with a hard right hand just 30 seconds into the fight, and John McCarthy was close to stopping it. Seumanutafa failed to seal the deal, and Mitrione rallied back and got his own KO win later in the round. In the post-fight interview, Mitrione had this interaction with Bellator analyst Jimmy Smith.
Smith: Matt, I don’t know if you remember it, but what were you thinking when that right hand hit you and you had to come back? What was going through your head?
Mitrione: I have no idea. I don’t remember right now. I think I dropped? I hit the ground?
Smith: You dropped, yes.
Mitrione: Uhhh yeah, I don’t know brother. I don’t know. I remember thinking “Oh sh*t, it’s time to get up and move, buddy.”
Smith: That’s a good thing to think.
Mitrione: “I’m not supposed to be here right now!” I think that’s what it was.
Smith: The final shot, clearing the legs, did you have a sense of “I need to come back and finish this fight quickly”? Did it give you a sense of urgency, or was that just you?
Mitrione: I don’t know, to be honest. I don’t really know what the f*ck I was thinking, but I’m glad that happened — whatever happened.
Smith brought in Oli Thompson, who was confirmed to be Mitrione’s next opponent on July 16th in London, a mere three weeks from the date of Mitrione/Seumanutafa. There was certainly plenty of discussion on MMA Twitter over publicly announcing the fight just minutes after Mitrione was nearly KO’d, but Bellator officials confirmed during the event that Mitrione would need medical clearance, and if he didn’t pass them, the fight would not go through. Scott Coker later admitted that they essentially “jumped the gun” on making the announcement.
Missouri’s athletic commission did not issue a medical suspension for Mitrione, but MMA Mania reported that Mitrione would undergo an MRI this week. With that out of the way, Bellator officials formally announced Mitrione vs. Oli Thompson for the promotion’s trip to London on Saturday, July 16th. Thompson (17-8) is a former UFC fighter who went 0-2 in the promotion before his 2012 release. He’s otherwise won his last 5 fights, and will be making his Bellator debut later this month.
According to Mitrione (10-5), he later said in the post-fight press conference that he remembered the entire fight with Seumanutafa, but that his inability to remember what happened during the post-fight interview was down to “the adrenaline of the moment,” (via MMAjunkie) as opposed to being concussed. This upcoming fight with Thompson is the quickest turnaround of his entire MMA career.
Bellator 158 is headlined by welterweight Paul Daley and Douglas Lima, and the card will air live in the UK on Spike UK (9-10 PM local time) and then on Channel 5 from 10 PM-midnight local time. However, US viewers can only see the event on same-day tape delay on Spike TV, at 9 PM ET/PT.
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